I’ve been fascinated by Bertucci watches ever since my buddy, a tree care specialist in Savannah, showed me his. It was deeply beaten up by his work climbing large coastal oaks, its thick NATO strap softened by sweat from sweltering 90-degree days. He liked his Bertucci because it was affordable and made for the job; he didn’t have to worry about breaking it — always nice when you’re operating a chainsaw 80 feet in the air.
Cheap, tough, sold as a workhorse: As a field watch concept, it was kind of awesome. Here's what it's like as a field watch in action.
Bertucci A-2T Field Watch: What We Think
Bertucci has long been an interesting brand for going all-in on making the best daily-wear beater watch on the market. There’s something to be said for a brand whose stated purpose is to make the “ultimate” field watch. Sure, your Tudor Ranger might be more “ultimate,” but if it costs more than a used car, is it really a field watch at all?
Interestingly, over the years I’ve met a number of people with wide-ranging opinions on Bertucci and their watches. The cost-effectiveness question divides people. Has Bertucci put enough thought into their watches for watch nerds to enjoy them, or was this more of a tool-tool watch with a simple quartz heart?
To find out more, I decided to wear the Bertucci A-2T Titanium field watch on a few adventures.
It serves well in a range of situations
Adventure one was a trip to the beach. I often wear my Seiko Solar "Arnie" SNJ025 watch on trips like these. It’s a beast made for the water, multifunctional, with 200 meters of water resistance and a comfortable silicon strap.
It’s tough to measure up to that. At half the price of my Seiko, one could expect a few downsides to the Bertucci, and it has them: Its canvas NATO-style strap is extremely wide and stiff, not exactly comfortable nor form-fitting to the wrist; its lume isn’t as good as the Arnie’s; and, frankly, it’s even uglier than my chunktastic Seiko.
But the A-2T had all the basics covered and worked perfectly well as a “beach watch.” It, too, had 200 meters of water resistance; its screw-down crown and scratch-resistant crystal were a great match for sand and waves; and that stiff strap softened up nicely after a few minutes dipped in the Pacific.
The A-2T proved a great driving watch, too. On a long cruise up the coast, its dial was easy to read, and I appreciated the size of the watch, which suddenly took on the appearance of a pilot’s watch. The effect of its ultralight titanium case was a comfortable, light feel on the wrist. No rush to take it off at the end of the day.
holds its own among the "beater watch" greats
Later, hiking in the woods, and swimming in the river, a friend told me she liked the watch. After wearing it a few minutes herself, she found an appreciation for the strap, though it was wide and its metal loops chunky. “It feels extremely secure,” she said, then took it off to wear in a hammock, where she promptly fell asleep. Comfortable, indeed.
Comparing the Bertucci A-2T to a Seiko Solar Arnie isn’t exactly fair, as I mentioned. This is setting the bar for a do-it-all watch very high. And plus, the A-2T’s price point ($235) is much lower than the Solar Arnie ($525). This is really closer to the realm of a Timex Weekender or Seiko 5 field watch, actually. I’ll discuss those more momentarily, but the point is, if they’re going for the ultimate “beater” watch, the price point fits.
A titanium case has multiple benefits
Titanium seems a great watch material. It’s as strong as stainless steel, but half the weight; it’s resistant to corrosion, making it great for saltwater seekers. Bertucci makes theirs out of a unibody case, which along with the hardened sapphire crystal, fixed lugs, and screw-down crown seem to be the main line of defense against shock, dust, and everything-else damage.
Mainly, for me, the appeal was the weight. This watch reads more than 40mm to the eyes, but put it on your wrist and it feels light as a feather. That’s fun and adds a mithril-esque air to the watch.
Clean and mature dial and hands
I admit, I never much liked the hands of previous Bertuccis I’d tried (including the red seconds hand that still lives on some of their watches.) I’d also found their dials flat and relatively cheap-looking.
That was noticeably different this time around. I loved the Super-LumiNova'ed hands, and the print on the dial seemed to have more depth than I previously remembered. It’s the budget-version “dirty dozen” vintage military feel, and it’s done damn well enough, honestly.
Its case finishing isn't refined, but it doesn't need to be
One of the most disappointing moments I shared with the A-2T was when I looked closely at the finishing of the case. In places, it was ugly. Between the lugs, a small ridge of metal remained from what I could assume was a botched moment of molding.
I cringed. Then I forgot about it because I couldn’t see up in there past the unstoppable lugs and giant rigid strap that held it in place. And because it was true that this watch represented the lower end of the "tough" watches spectrum from luxury watches like the Rolex Submariner and even higher-end ones. Bertucci even offers a 3-year warranty, much longer than other brands at its price point.
I recently asked my buddy what happened to his Bertucci watch. “I broke it, eventually,” he sighed. But not until a heavy beating was taken. “I’d like to buy another one,” he told me.
Bertucci A2T Field Watch: Alternatives
You could spring for a Timex Weekender ($42), which is far cheaper but has none of the toughness of the titanium Bertucci, and “is not suitable for swimming or bathing.” A new Seiko 5 Sports runs at a similar price point ($275+), and has a mechanical movement — cool, but technically a little less durable than the quartz Bertucci. The Marathon Officer's Field Watch ($465+) offers watches with more direct military appeal and some extra-tough features. Above them in price, brands like MkII ($649+), Orion ($725+), and others offer a microbrand edge and small-scale-goods touch to the field watch package.
It’s a happy pack of tough watches, and the Bertucci stands out in its space among them.